Bentonite pond to help farmers address water shortage – Drujeygang Gewog

The farmers of Pangna chiwog at Drujeygang Gewog in Dagana are looking forward to increasing their agricultural output. The Agriculture Research and Development Centre (ARDC) in Wangdue Phodrang has completed the construction of a water-storing pond using bentonite and red clay. The water stored in the pond will now help farmers to water their crops during the lean season and irrigate their paddy. The ARDC from Bajo handed over the pond to the Gewog administration recently.

The farmers of Pangna Chiwog under Drujeygang Gewog have been facing a shortage of drinking and irrigation water for decades. Without enough water, the farmers have left their land fallow.

However, with the construction of a pond using a mixture of bentonite powder and red soil, the farmers are hopeful to increase their agricultural output. The water stored in the pond will benefit seven households.

The beneficiary farmers in the chiwog cultivate paddy, seasonal vegetables and cash crops like orange, cardamom and mango. The water will also be used in greenhouses.

“The land in Drujeygang is good for cultivation. But without irrigation water, whatever we cultivate, it does not grow well. The district agriculture and ARDC in Bajo and the gewog have constructed a pond to store water near the gewog centre. It will greatly help us in carrying out any type of agricultural activity,” said Thinley Wangchuk, a farmer of Pangna Chiwog.

“It is the first time that such a kind of pond is being constructed in Drujeygang. Without water until now, we could not focus on growing vegetables. But now, having water in the pond will encourage us to grow more crops. If we get more such ponds in the future, it will be more helpful for us,” said Harka Jung Thapa, another farmer.

“Earlier, we used to struggle without water. But, now the government has constructed a pond and we are very much thankful to the government,” said Yangley, a farmer.

The bentonite clay is being imported from Rajasthan in India and funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency. According to the Gewog extension office, bentonite is a natural pond sealant that seals leaks in any pond regardless of its state. The water stored in the pond is safe to drink.

“A sack of bentonite is mixed with six sacks of clay while constructing the clay. We also use a compactor to make the mixture compact while constructing the pond. Otherwise, it is done manually. The pond can store 0.236 million litres of water at once. We can distribute the water to the seven identified needy farmers. We can also construct such ponds in other areas framing the guidelines if they require. Such ponds will solve water crisis issues in the future,” said Tshering Dendup, gewog agriculture extension officer.

The gewog administration will now take care of the pond. The administration will restock the water in the pond and distribute it to needy farmers.

“Constructing such ponds in the gewog will help the people a lot. We are happy. The farmers have lost interest in agricultural activities without water. Water from such ponds will also help the vegetables and crops like oranges and cardamom to grow. It will also help farmers to plant seedlings in the absence of water from other sources,” said Nado, Drujeygang mangmi.

The remaining works that include the installation of a chain link fence on one side, pipes to connect the pond with water and install pipes to distribute to the farmers will be completed soon. The pond is constructed at a cost of Nu 250,000.

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